Many sites listed for development in Ashford’s-almost-approved new Local Plan are now being put forward to Ashford Borough Council for Outline Planning approval. This is not surprising, given that they have been much debated during the various public consultation phases of putting the Ashford Local Plan together. An application for Outline Planning adds formal, legally understood, approval to build. The process, however, is causing alarm, none-the-less.
So is it game-over for current residents ?
What does Outline Planning Approval mean?
Outline planning approval establishes only the principle of development in a location. Obviously, this is the fact that is most objected to, but residents still have much to fight for. Even after Outline Planning Approval is given – none of the detail is yet agreed and there will be many opportunities to influence what finally happens.
An outline planning application must include sufficient detail for the local planning authority ( in our case Ashford Borough Council) to evaluate the proposal. Approval gives developers security and a breathing space, as they then have up to 3 years to put the detailed design forward in a second planning application that is known as Reserved Matters.
Before the full application (or Reserved Matters) appears, there is a great deal that local residents can do to ensure that what is built is tolerable. They can work together, alongside their Parish Council and Borough Councillor, to influence the final design – and derive community benefits from the development when it finally comes. Comments upon current pressures on roads, services and utility supplies will help make sure that the new development brings improvements such as cycle ways. Speaking up about the issues of your daily commutes to and from your home do carry weight when an application is being considered by the authorities. Collect evidence! Take photographs, record incidents and their causes. You can also suggest ways that green separation might protect existing residents to influence the landscaping and creation of buffer zones to reduce the impact.
It is always worth getting involved, joining in the action groups, speaking up at the local meetings and putting that comment in the Planning Portal. Above all make sure your Parish Council is representing the views of the community.
The process exists to allow you to voice your view – so please don’t give up. There is still much to fight for.